Our city lies in a gorge so large and deep, through which Iris river flows.
Both providence and nature have constructed the city in the most admirable way. It serves both as a city and as a fortress.
Strabo, Geographica, 12.39
Built in the gorge, in which Iris river flows, Amaseia, home city of the geographer Strabo (c. 65 B.C. – c. 23 A.D.), is mentioned in a geography book of 1921 as the most romantic and picturesque city of Minor Asia.
Being continuously inhabited since the 4th millennia B.C., the city has known the domination of the Assyrians, the Hittites and the Persians through time. Amaseia was the capital of Pontus’ Kingdom, founded by Mithridates I Ctistes (302-266), till 183 B.C., when the capital was transferred to coastal Sinope. The rock-cut tombs, preserved till today, belong to the kings of Pontus.
The city was conquered by the Romans in 64 B.C. and is called “Metropolis of Pontus” and “the First of Pontus” on coins of the emperors Domitian (81-96 A.D.) and Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.). In the 6th century, it was the capital of the Helenopontus’ province and after a destructive earthquake, the whole city was rebuilt by Justinian I (527-565). During a raid by the Arab Masalma in 712, the city was damaged and a large number of its citizens were held captives. Till the mid-11th century, Amaseia was the city of exile for military officers and rulers who initiated riots in the byzantine state. At the end of the 11th century and with its occupation by the Seljuk Turks, the city knew great development. It was also characterized as “Baghdad Rum” (Baghdad of Rum). In 1392, it was occupied by the sultan Bayezid I (1398-1402) and it was included in the Ottoman state. A prosperous era for Amaseia was under Selim I (1512-1520), who was born in the city. However, the policy of dehellenization, which followed, led to the reduction of the city’s Greek population.
During the Russo-Turkish War in 1876-1884, many Greeks of Amaseia sought refuge in Russia. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Greeks of the city displayed intellectual and financial progress. They were engaged in trade, in arts but also in agriculture. The city had schools and a “triune” church dedicated to Saint George, Saint Charalambos and Saint Basil, archbishop of Amaseia. After the end of the Second World War, 90.000 habitants of the area were deported (1915), while whoever remained, suffered harsh persecutions. The “State Independence Court”, organized in the city by Mustafa Kemal in September 1921, convicted many Greeks to death by hanging. The survivors took refuge in Greece.
The natural beauty in combination with the monuments of the past and the modern pace of life make Amaseia today a city significantly picturesque and attractive.